As cities raise their parking fees, the expectation is that revenues would increase. Right? Well not so fast. It seems that in two cities, San Francisco and Sacramento, the revenues are going DOWN? What happened.
Are people parking less because of the high rates. Not really. You can read the articles here and here. These articles aren’t well researched and don’t have a lot of hard facts, but it seems that fewer people are testing the rules and more people are paying for parking. Revenues are down because the number of citations written is down.
It doesn’t make sense, or does it. On first blush, it would seem that if you raised the rates, more people would be tempted to cheat. However with increased rates came another phenomenon: a multitude of ways to pay, far beyond the requirement to carry a pocketful of quarters to ‘feed’ the meters.
New smart meters that take credit cards, pay by cell, coin, and in the case of multi space meters take banknotes and give change, drivers aren’t stuck searching through ash trays for coin or running to the nearest store for change.
It seems that once one gets past the shock of putting three bucks on your AMEX, it becomes easy. You slap your card in the meter, run it up to the maximum time, (some meters start at the maximum time) and you are on your way. No need to worry about that ticket.
So rather than people being inherently scofflaws, perhaps the real reason meters ran out of money and citations were issued was that folks simply didn’t have change and rather than find it, they rolled the parking meter dice.
Writing this makes me feel all warm and cuddly. There is hope for humanity yet. Sure I don’t like to get tickets, but I really don’t mind paying if I can figure out how to do so. I rave about parking Nazis, but that’s because I got a ticket, not because I had to pay for parking.
Sure people complain about paying $4 to park, but they complain louder and longer about a $65 ticket.
What will cities do in the face of lower revenues. Frankly I’m not worried. They will find ways to get their paws into our wallets and purses. Not a problem.
All is right with the world.